Travelog / Optional Experiences

FROM The man in the front seat / May 1, 2014

Plaza de España (Seville)

Many Spanish cities compete with each other in claiming the most beautiful plaza (square) in Spain. Most people however agree that the winner is Seville with its incredible Plaza de España. Translating literally to “Spanish Square” it forms part of the Parque de María Luisa, and was laid out in 1928 in preparation for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. The exhibition was an attempt to improve relations between Spain, its former colonies and the United States of America. Preparations took 19 years with exhibition buildings being constructed in the Maria […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / May 1, 2014

The Royal Palace (Madrid)

This version of the Royal Palace was a result of a fire that engulfed its predecessor, the Hapsburg Alcazar, to the ground in 1744. Luckily the Royal family was staying in the Parque Buen Retiro, so Phillip V decided to replace it with a new palace to be designed by the Italian Felipe Juvarra. The construction lasted only 26 years and spanned two more architects as well as two more monarchs, Charles III and Charles IV. The palace was occupied by the Royal family until 1931 with the abdication of […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / March 31, 2014

Montserrat & the black madonna (Barcelona)

Located north-west of Barcelona is the incredible Montserrat (serrated mountain), a 1236m (4055ft) mountain, a truly unique rock formation that for centuries has shaped by wind, rain and frost. Situated at 725m (2390ft) is the spectacular Abadia de Monserrat (Abbey of Monserrat), the most important shrine in Catalunya with nearly all Catalans making the journey there at least once in their lives . The natural beauty of the area is breathtaking, accessed by an incredible journey up the mountain to where on a clear day you can see as far […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / March 7, 2014

Parc Güell (Barcelona)

Located about 4km from the city centre, Park Guell is one of a series of creations by the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. History The project started in 1900 when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree covered hillside in the Gracia District and hired Gaudi to create a miniature garden city of houses for the wealthy. The site was called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain) due to the fact that it had little vegetation with a few trees and was extremely rocky. The site however did already have a large country house […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / March 7, 2014

Malaga

Population: 535,000 Located in the heart of the Costa del Sol, Malaga is Andalucia’s second largest city after Seville is a city that many visitors just pass by, using it only for its airport.  It is however is a very Spanish port city, located on the Mediterranean dominated by wide tree lined boulevards, beautiful gardens, fashionable shops and great bars all overlooked by two fortresses, the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro. History The city was originally founded (the known as Malaka) around 770 B.C. by the Phoenicians, modern Lebanon […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 17, 2014

San Gimignano

Pop.: 8000 When you close your eyes and think of Tuscany you’re probably thinking of San Gimignano. Perched up on the crest of a hill and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, the town with its 14 towers (once were 72) reminds the visitor of a medieval Manhattan. History Like many hilltop towns in Italy, San Gimignano was once an Etruscan town and according to legend was founded by two brothers, Muzio and Silvio, in 63 B.C. who were fleeing Rome after being implicated in a conspiracy. The town’s name, […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 15, 2014

Córdoba

Set on the banks of the Río Guadilquivir, Córdoba for me is the city that epitomises Spain by fusing the Arabic world with the Christian. Being the centre of Arab Spain for more than 300 years saw the construction of some of the finest buildings dedicated to religion and education that Europe has ever known. The later re-conquest saw this Arab heritage incorporated into a new Christian world. History Around 152BC the Romans arrived in Córdoba giving it the name Corduba and because of its location became the capital of […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 14, 2014

Segovia

Pop.: 56,000 Of all Spanish cities probably the one with the most impressive location, situated on a rocky outcrop surrounded by 2 rivers, Río Eresma and the Río Clamores. Many visitors compare it to a warship sailing through the plains of Castilla with the Alcazar (Fortress) forming the prow, the pinnacles of the cathedral creating the mast and the aqueduct following like a rudder. In 1975 UNESCO made Segovia a World Heritage City and any visitor will see it’s honour rightfully deserved. History Segovia was occupied by Rome around 80BC […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / February 13, 2014

Sintra

Pop.: 33,000 With its incredible setting in a National Park on the north slope of a granite mountain and set amongst wooded ravines with natural water springs, it comes as no surprise that that for many years Sintra was the favourite summer destination for the Portuguese Royal Family. As a consequence the area became a popular place for summer homes for many of Portugal’s wealthy and aristocratic.  Since 1995 the town has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts, deservedly so, tens of thousands of visitors each […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / July 29, 2013

Eagles Nest – Kehlsteinhaus (Salzburg)

When the Bavarian Nazi Party chairman, Martin Bormann, was looking for something to give Hitler for his fiftieth birthday , he remembered a comment Hitler made whilst walking through the Alps in the southern German state of Bavaria. Hitler pointed to the top of Mt. Kehlstein and said, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a house up there”. In 13 months Bormann had built a chalet on a ridge of Kehlstein at 1834m (6017ft) accessed by a panoramic road 6.5km (4mi), a brass elevator built into the mountain for the […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / July 20, 2013

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa)

Without a doubt one of the most recognisable monuments in Italy. Built as the bell tower for the cathedral it was begun on August 14 1173 with the bell tower being added in 1372. The tower today has a height of 55.86m (183.27ft), with its width at the base being 4.09m (13.42ft) and at the top 2.48m (8.14ft). in total it weighs 14,500 metric tonnes and is accessible through 296 steps. Before the restoration work, which saw the tower closed, in 1990 the tower had a lean of 5.5 degrees […]

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FROM The man in the front seat / July 9, 2013

Louvre Pyramid (Paris)

La Pyramid du Louvre was designed by the Chinese-American I.M. Pei, who also is responsible for the National Art Gallery in Washington, The Rock & Roll Museum in Cleveland and the Miho Museum in Japan, and today forms the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. It is located in the Main Courtyard (Cour Napoleon) and was commissioned by Francois Mitterand, the then French President, and took only 5 years to complete being finished in 1989. It was created because the Louvre original main entrance could no longer handle the amount […]

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